The Blob (1958) USA / Not Rated / 82 min / 6.3 IMDB / IMDB rank 9,003
By Roger Malcolm / OCT. 2012
“Beware of The Blob, it creeps, it leaps, and glides and slides across the floor!” Based on an original idea by Irvine H. Millgate, screenplay written by Theodore Simonson and Kay Linaker, and directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. The Blob is an Independent film produced by Jack H. Harris, for a reported 120,000 dollars. Harris’ original claim was 240,000, however director Yeaworth Jr. disagreed, claiming the lesser.
Set in the late 1950’s, we are introduced to a teenage couple sitting in a convertible with its top down. They sit perched on top of their seats kissing underneath the stars. Jane interrupts Steve saying they were suppose to be wishing on falling stars instead, fearing she is just another girl Steve has brought up to deceive. Steve reassures her he has never brought anyone else up to the spot. She admits she doesn’t know why, but believes him. I don’t even know if I believe him. Then they witness something like a meteorite fall from the sky. In a blaze, Steve slides down into the seat, starts the engine and races off to see if they can find where it made contact.
Only, an old farmer investigates first, discovering a cannonball-sized moon-shaped meteor. He prods it with a stick, cracking it open to reveal something inside. He prods again, getting it stuck to the end of the stick. He slowly looks it over as it glides down the stick like thick slime towards his hand. He holds it upside down hoping to prevent it touching him, but instead the goo leaps, coating his hand like a molasses bubble. He yells for help, eventually being found by Steve and Jane. Steve carelessly attempts to help him get it off, but the man refuses – fortunately for Steve.
The farmer insists on a doctor, only in the time it takes to arrive, The Blob has doubled in size according to Steve. The teens leave for an adventurous time of their own involving drag racing backwards, cops, meteorite leftovers, and the farmer’s dog. They receive some peer pressure to attend the spook show at the drive-in but instead report the nights details to the police. Naturally the story of a monster going around killing people in the town is pretty hard to believe and the kids aren’t taken seriously by the police. As the teens discuss how to convince people to believe something that they don’t, the town becomes a national emergency.
Filmed locally in Pennsylvania, with an excellent script and a diverse cast of characters with period-specific mentalities. The budget didn’t offer much in the way of stars. Instead, they signed two unknowns as the leads. Jane played by Aneta Corsaut in her first film role, who would go on to be in The Andy Griffith Show as Helen Crump. The character became the longest running relationship Sheriff Taylor ever had during the show, ending with the characters even being married and having a child. Playing Steve, in his first lead role of his career was the King of Cool himself, Steve McQueen, billed as Steven McQueen.
For his role in The Blob, he was offered $2500 or 10% of the earnings. According to his first ex-wife Neile Adams, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on that money and missed out on what would have been a possible $400,000 instead. Compare this to Clint Eastwood, who at the time made only $750 for his role in Ambush at Cimarron Pass (1958) and Marlon Brando who made $300,000 for Sayonara (1957). Regardless, in 1974 McQueen, Hollywood’s anti-hero, became the highest paid actor in the world. About working with Steve on The Blob, producer Jack H. Harris was quoted “As Walter Mirisch said, he’s a pain in the ass but worth it.” Walter Mirisch knew from experience having produced The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963), both starring McQueen.
Jack H. Harris would also discover two more future filmmakers that would make an “enormous” impact on the horror genre when he produced the highly influential Dark Star (1974). One being co-writer Dan O’Bannon, who would go on to co-write the Academy-Award winning Alien (1979), Total Recall (1990), and direct his screenplay in the cult-classic The Return of the Living Dead (1985). The other being director/co-writer John Carpenter, who directed horror classics Halloween (1976), The Fog (1980), The Thing (1982) etc. Director John Carpenter displayed his distaste for his producer by the passive-aggressive action of inserting “FUCK YOU HARRIS” flashing across a computer screen in Dark Star.
The Blob might not have earned as much as George A. Romero‘s classic Night of the Living Dead (1968), also filmed in PA, but it surely led the way for all Independent horror classics, coming 10 years before. Though I should warn while viewing you might become consumed by The BLOB!
Best Death: The old farmer, being the first to make contact with The Blob, becomes completely devoured. What makes this the best scene is that it certainly is what inspired Stephen King to write the Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill in Creepshow (1982), directed by George A. Romero – a role King would play himself, about a farmer that discovers a meteor on his property which, once touched, slowly spreads all over him.
Best Scene: In an effort to alert everyone after the Police ignored them, the teens set off the town’s fire and air-raid sirens. The bold good-intentioned youths once again are ignored by the authority as non-sense. Suddenly ensues the iconic shots of patrons running out of the theater into the streets screaming as pandemonium breaks out as The Blob consumes all in its path, making all take notice of the teens’ warnings.